The Solomon Islands are a collection of nearly one thousand islands in Oceania that form a sovereign country. They lie to the east of Papua New Guinea in Melanesia and cover a land area of 28,400 square kilometres . The country's capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal. The islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. In 1568, the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to visit them, naming them the Islas Salomón. By 1893, the United Kingdom had established a protectorate over what was now known as "the Solomon Islands". During the Second World War, the Solomon Islands campaign (1942–1945) saw fierce fighting between the United States and the Empire of Japan, such as in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Today, the Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of the Solomon Islands, currently Elizabeth II, as its head of state. Gordon Lilo Darcy is the eleventh and current Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands.